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Development #1

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Nov 29 2011

So I’ve read woot commstoday and they mentioned 5 great reasons to start a developer diary. My favorite of these are staying sane, and feedback.

In the past I’ve written slightly more but about more broad general things, the industry and concepts instead of concrete things like what I’m working on. I think that, in part, is why there has been trouble trying to get engagement. So here we will try and foray into the more concrete. I know way to bury the lead huh?

I’ve been working on an android app we are calling Marco Polo for now. Apparently the name is taken and we’ll have to come up with something else when we release but it works as a working title. It’s kind of a mess as its my first time working with android and despite knowing java I’ve still been learning a lot.

I’m currently working on testing framework which I probably should have done much earlier in the project to try and help debug and polish the mostly functional code at this point. Debugging smart fox server has been an interesting challenge. I spent some time with Junit and the client software to implement fake users but hit a snafu when trying to use more then one fake user at once. Fortunately updating my version of smart fox server provided some NPC functionality on the server side. The past few week or so has been trying to shape that to what I need it to do.

We are also planning on incorporating a neat service called kiip, which is basically attaching real world rewards to achievements in games. So when we get this integrated properly people will be able to get free stuff for doing awesome things in our game, and we may be able to make enough to cover server costs.

Things are really starting to come together and I’m really glad to have my business partner James and my fiancee Gina believing in me and helping me keep slogging on in the dips and lagging periods of this project.

We are also plotting our next android project which will be based onthe card game fortunes. The game is a tie in to the “The Way of the Gods” book series by Barbara Friend Ish which if you like fantasy you should go check out a copy.

I promise I’ll work on making these less ramble-y in the future.

Story Players

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Jul 01 2011

I saw an interesting video from Extra Credits a while back about the role of the player in our art.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/3555-The-Role-of-the-Player

This goes hand in hand with the emphasis on world building we want to have here. If we create interesting worlds (or just spaces for some of the less storied entries like Marco Polo) people can discover/unveil/create their own stories.

Minecraft does a great job of this. As you can tell here:

You have any great stories from games that weren’t the ones explicitly put in by the designers? Share with us in the comments.

Social and Cooperative Gameplay

1 Comment | This entry was posted on Jan 11 2011

One thing I can count on Ant for is interesting a new things to read.

Recently, Ant sent me a link to an article about Asymmetrical Cooperative Gaming. It’s a really neat idea. Basically, it is creating games that are a fusion of genres in which players of different kinds of games can play together in the same space at the same time. It reminds me of a project that one gentleman at SIEGE was involved in.

In that project, players were supposed to assume different roles in which to command a starship. One person would be an engineer, another a pilot, another the captain, another a gunner, and so forth. All players had to be involved in order to play. As impossible as it may be to believe, the project didn’t get far.

And that is too bad. It’s a good idea. And the game talked about in the article sounds like fun.

It’s not a new idea, either. You talk to any gamer and ask them what their dream game would be, and it is almost invariably a game that does everything. They want to kill things, and build things, and they want the things they do to be persistent, and the want to own a shop, and farm, and solve puzzles, and run a town, and command an army, and take over the world, and be the bad guy, and take down the bad guy, etcetera, etcetera.

Of course, when you talk to game makers, the answer is that such a game is not possible, too hard to build, or simply not feasible.

Well, I think such genre-bending games are possible. There are no physical or mental reasons why they would not be. What I think is the problem with such games such as the one mentioned in the article and the unnamed starship project is one thing, synchronicity.

See, we don’t do everything at the same time in order to get things done. We do things when we are able to or when they are required of us. True, there are tasks in which things need to be done in tandem, but most things do not require that. Think of an office worker. Most jobs in an office are dependent upon other people in the office. Each person needing something from the others in order to get things done, but none of those things are ever delivered, or even worked upon at the same time. Each worker gets their piece to where it needs to be whenever they do, and usually by a certain time (hopefully). When the task at hand is completed, all of the workers share in the experience of having the task or project done, no matter when they contributed their piece.

Asynchronous cooperation and competition, I believe, is the future of (and, if you played games on BBSes, the past of) gameplay. For example, a friend of mine’s stepfather used to play the same RPG she did on the original Nintendo. She would go and further the story, but when she wasn’t playing, her stepfather would spend all of his time trading items from port to port. When she would get back to her game, she would have a bunch of money to help her in her quest and further the story. When she stopped, her stepfather would have more ports and goods available to trade in and with. They were both playing the same game, and they were both gaining the joy of accomplishment, but they were involved in two radically different activities.

Think of what this would mean if this principle were applied to modern MMOs and guilds. Many different players with many different gaming styles and preferred genres could share the same successes and experiences, without having to resort in gameplay that does not appeal to them, or during times that are not convenient to them. This would not only increase the audience of the game, but also increase the emotional investment of players, as they would have an even larger group that they are connected to within the game.

Now, imagine that same MMO, but now, everyone has to do their parts at the same time. Imagine an office where all tasks had to be worked on at the same moment. Both fall apart and are way to complicated to design elegantly, but, if you take the synchronous actions out, things slide into place. That is why I believe that asynchronous play will lead the charge in the future of multiplayer games.

-James-

Oh God, this is so Cliché

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Oct 11 2010

For me, that joke is never going to get old.

My name is James Kempf, and, in partnership with Anthony Thomas (aka Ant), we have created Cliché Studio.

Besides providing lots of bad jokes, Cliché Studio is primarily focused upon social mobile gaming, or, games that take advantage of the smartphone as a unique platform and its social aspects.

In the meantime, we are currently involved with Mercury Retrograde to create games to expand the worlds of their different properties.

Wish us luck.

-James-